We do not have far to go today to Christchurch, but the weather is supposed to turn to another cyclone this afternoon.
Despite this forecast that it would be nice until 3 pm it started to rain as we were packing up this morning. We only went about 15 minutes and we were ahead of the storm and the sun was shining. We then opted for the “Inland Scenic Route”.
About half way today Dan’s 800 passed 250,000 km!!! This route happily also took us back a few km from Sheffield where they have the best pie shop on the south island!
In Christchurch we were happy to find an relatively inexpensive airbnb in a house just 4 km from the motorcycle repair shop. A dodgy hotel here is easily 2-3 times the price.
We dropped the bikes at the shop and then walked the 4 km back stopping on the way for supplies to last out the storm. We will have a few things sorted. Some screws that have gone missing, the oil changed, the oil filter off the 650 (That no one could get off on since Tblisi), the brake oil on the 650 filled as it was not done by the guys in Malaysia (at least 8 items down incorrectly or not at all so far), valves checked also not done properly, and the timing chains replaced on both bikes.
Phil Parrish is a mechanic well know here on the South Island and he has done the split link repair on an 800 before. Dan’s 800 the chain was slipping when we had the valves supposedly checked and shimmed in Malaysia and the power is definitely lacking recently. We are afraid to have a major melt down when we are island hopping in Indonesia. In the end Dan’s chain had stretched a full link and was removed without needing to cut it. Sara’s was not skipping and was stretched maybe 1/2 a link. The valves were of course not done properly in Malaysia either! They are not off by that much and will last until we hit the USA in May.
We timed the service well to coincide with the predicted cyclone and though there was not much wind it did pour for the 2 days we were hold up here. Great time to get some work done and I finally got back at the blog posting. Dan also found a vinyl wrap shop to properly cover the Frankenscreen.
The forecast is for some showers today and then 4-5 days of sunshine. We picked up the bikes and then headed out in some light showers to Hanmer Springs.
We noted on the road signs that the route to Picton on the highway 1 or Kaikoura road that just opened a month ago after 3 years is closed again after massive land slides. This means all the traffic must go on the 2 other paved roads or the Molesworth road. The sun was out soon enough and we had an easy 135 km.
We stopped here for lunch and the couple next to us were riding as well, but are here from Greece. He leaned over to me and said “ This is a small world I saw you on an HU post yesterday from Mt Cook!” He and Dan are actually FB friends already! Very nice couple and we wish we had met them sooner. They are headed to St. Arnaud as well today, but on the paved road and they have to catch the ferry at Picton in the morning.
We set off from Hanmer on the Jack pass road and then onto the Tophouse Road, which is 110 km of dirt to meet the highway 63 near to St Arnaud. Most of the road is good firm gravel with a good track.
About 50 km we came across a narrow, but very deep ford and then 55 km in a very wide river to cross. BTW we have not seen another vehicle.
There is a large bridge crossing the main river. When we finally made it to the Rainbow Station road 2 km later and 25 km from St Arnaud the gate sign said road closed. So with nothing to loose we decided to go on a bit and see. What we found were a few medium fords and poorer road, and then a huge land slide blocking the road after another 3 km. Now you think somewhere in the last 75 km there would have been a sign to say the road was closed or the local I stopped to talk to on the way would have said something!!
It is now 5 pm and we will turn back, but 5 km back there was an emergency shelter hut for hikers and we decided to stay here the night. So now to get turned around on the landslide and then back over the raging river (Dan had to ride Lulu of course). The small cabin has 6 bunks and the water from the stream nearby can be drunk after boiling. There is also a very clean long drop.
The last people to fill in the intentions book were from Squamish!
We hope to get some good star shots tonight! About 930 we had a knock on the door and 2 fisherman and their land rover also decided to park for the night. They “kindly” woke us at 715 to see if we wanted hot water for coffee and ask us “do you have food?” We have food of course, but were glad of the hot water for coffee as it saved us heating it ourselves. Nice gentlemen!
We set off back the 65 km to Hanmer with only the one deep and narrow ford. Luckily just as we arrived we could prevent a “kid” from getting his car stuck here and blocking our exit as he was just about to go for it. We told him to turn back and he did. We made good time and at speed back to town for some fuel. So now we have to go all the way around. We decided to take the Lewis pass to Reefton and then stop for lunch.
Jack’s Pass to Hanmer
Instead of going directly to Westport we rode south to Greymouth and then north on the “Great Coast Road” to Westport.
On the way north you can see nice views of the rugged coastline and stop to visit the iconic Pancake rocks.
We decided to stop in Westport as we had been chasing behind the last of the storm and it was raining the the last 30 min, and we were too tired to go on up the coast to Karamea. We arrived very cold and tired and stopped at the only hotel without a No Vacancy sign. They have a really good system in this town and others as it is often fully booked. One place each day takes the role of central bookings. She knows which bars and hotels in town have beds. She set us up 700m down the road in the Cosmopolitan Bar/hotel. Good hot shower and lots of plugs to charge everything we have.